Need legal advice - child custody

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by chevelleguy3, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. chevelleguy3 macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2013
    Mckinney, TX
    I figured I would reach out to you guys and see if there is anyone that could help or provide some advise.
    I will eventually get around to speaking with an attorney, but cash is slim and I want to get all my facts documented before I get one on retainer.

    Sorry, this will be a long post but I want to get all the details out there.

    I just recently went through a divorce and have 2 kids with my ex. I am also recovering from being nearly dead in the hospital. Health wise I'm doing much better, I'm getting my strength back and can function normally now. We were married for 5 years, have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. About 2 years ago my health started declining at a fairly rapid pace. I'm normally a 225-230 pound guy at 6'2" and have been for most of my adult life. About 2 years ago, she completely flipped a 180 and decided to turn vegan and cut out meat and dairy. I am not here to debate whether vegan or non-vegan is the way to go, so please don't go that route. She forced the vegan diet in the household, including me and the kids. She started saying things like "If you eat meat, I cannot love you". Doing what most husbands do, I try to keep the wife happy even though I'd rather stay omni. I had never tried the vegan diet before and I was open to try it. I lost some weight and quickly got down to 185 pounds. I felt pretty good at 185-190 pounds but then I kept losing weight and I wasn't doing any exercise at all. It dropped to 160, then to 150. I got concerned at 150 pounds and went to my doctor. They ran test after test and everything was fine, except my blood sugar. My hbA1c was 14.5 with a fasting blood sugar of 370. I had never had problems with blood sugar regulation in my life. I went on a treatment plan for that and got my blood sugar under control. My weight continued to drop, now down to 140, then 130. I am feeling so weak at this point, I can barely get out of bed, can't function at work, can't interact with the kids, etc. She keeps telling me it's all in my head. Finally my mother is over visiting and says, you're going to the hospital now. My mother takes me to the hospital and I get admitted. They run extensive tests and the only thing they notice is that I'm dehydrated. I get pumped full of fluids and after a few days of monitoring me, they send me home. I come home to find out my ex had moved her stuff out and took the kids to live with her parents. Her excuse was that she can't handle me being sick anymore. She moves back in a few days later. We end up putting our house up for sale because I'm not sure if I can work anymore at this point. She leaves me again while I'm still sick and weak and moves back in with her parents. The house sells and guess what, I'm back in the hospital again down to 119 pounds. I'm in the hospital for a few days. Keep in mind, my ex has not even came to see me in the hospital at all with any of my visits. I end up getting a feeding tube installed through my nose down through my stomach and directly into my small intestine. I'm now doing feedings for 16 hours a day every day. The only thing the doctors could come up with is malnutrition due to the vegan diet. According to the doctors, my complete digestive system shut down and was preparing for my body to die. The doctors advice was to eat a normal balanced diet that includes meat and dairy. I get released from the hospital and my only place to stay is at my mother's house since our house had already sold and everything was in storage. Once moved in with my mom, I start eating a normal diet (country Texas style cooking) and immediately my health starts to improve. I had the feeding tube for 3 weeks and my doctor was so impressed on my improvement that he took out the feeding tube. It's been a steady increase since then. I'm now back up to 160 pounds and am working on getting my muscle mass back but I have the strength to function normal during the day. I'm back at work after a 3 month medical leave of absence. Things are looking good now. Oh and my hbA1c is back down to a 5.7 with no meds.

    Back in December, I told her that if we were going to work things out between us I needed to be able to eat a normal diet. She could not agree to it and said that meat and dairy will not be allowed in the household that she lives in. Also keep in mind, she lives with her parents and they cook normal food there. She was dead set on our house had to be a vegan lifestyle. So I asked if the vegan lifestyle meant more than our marriage, and the answer was yes. We filed for divorce and the divorce actually went pretty quick, was final in February. The kids remained with her because back then I was in no way capable of raising 2 young kids with my health the way it was. Here is where it gets a little hairy. She is treating the kids the same way with their diet. My 3 year old has developed tooth decay on all of his top teeth. They are completely rotted at the gum line. The bottom ones are perfect. She won't take him to a normal dentist, only a holistic one. I have him scheduled in for an exam at my dentist coming up soon. If you research vegan diet with tooth decay, you will find all sorts of information regarding calcium deficiency. It affects the top teeth first which is where his is. If his teeth were rotted due to not brushing, why would his bottom ones be perfect. His height and weight are on the low side for his age group. She will not bathe the kids using soap because it has chemicals in it. She will not use sunscreen on them due to chemicals as well. The daily diet that she feeds him is a smoothie for breakfast and lunch (spinach, banana, orange juice, water) then rice, potato (sometimes sweet potato) and avocado for dinner. Snacks are rice crackers. That's all he gets every day. When he is with me during my visitation, I feed him regular food. He loves eggs, bacon, milk, hamburgers, steak, chicken, mac&cheese, etc. He would rather eat than go to a playground.

    To throw a new wrench in the fire. The divorce has been final since mid February. We've been separated since early December 2016. It's now towards the end of April and she calls me that she's moving in with her boyfriend of 6 months with the kids. Do the math on the 6 months. I still have not met this guy or ran a background check on him and my kids are supposed to be moving in with him. I'm not okay with this. Regardless of this situation, I've been wanting to get custody of the kids due to how she's treating them as mentioned above. I have the kids scheduled for an exam with my dentist and also scheduled for a wellness check with my doctor. I'm hoping that they can provide some sort of evidence that she's neglecting them.

    What are you guys' thoughts on this, do I have a chance in court. I know the courts will generally favor the mother regardless. Please share your advice and thoughts on this. I don't have the money to go back and forth with an attorney, I'd really like this to be a home run shot in court.
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Step 1: Get a lawyer.
    Step 2: Do not proceed until you have a lawyer.

    That being said, I am not a lawyer - but my thoughts:

    You might have a shot at getting custody if you can show that your ex's imposed diet on the kids is negatively affecting their health.
    You might have a shot at not letting her bring the kids to her boyfriend's place if you can show that he or his home are dangerous or otherwise detrimental to the kids.

    You need to somehow get the money to go back and forth with an attorney. Unless you're an attorney, I don't think you have much chance at getting anything to happen.

    Good luck.
  3. chevelleguy3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2013
    Mckinney, TX
    I don't plan on proceeding with out a lawyer. I just really don't want to go back and forth with a lawyer until I have all of my facts documented. I'm really looking for advise on getting a solid case ready before going to a lawyer.
  4. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I can't really add much to this. Best of luck to you, @chevelleguy3.
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    You need a lawyer to tell you what your options are - and what facts are relevant - before you do anything else, such as engaging a lawyer on a more long term basis. So, I will echo the advice tendered by a previous poster, @Tomorrow: Get a lawyer in order to have a preliminary chat or discussion.

    Moreover, I would imagine that the same tale as told from her side would sound rather different, and you may also need to be prepared for that.

    Now, re food and women: Food is rarely a cause of problems - although (as in your post) it is often presented as such. Rather, it is a symptom of other - often, deeper, and frequently far more intractable problems.

    In a life that seems to be going out of control, or, where she may have very little control over many other areas or issues, a woman will often exert total control over matters such as food.

    Moreover, for many women, food can be a source of self-punishment, - or, of exerting control over their bodies, - or a means of imposing punishment on others - but, it is often something that women in a relationships (or lives) that they find unsatisfactory will use as an expression of control, or an expression of deep unhappiness.

    Food is the means - or weapon - chosen; it is not the cause.

    Having said that, while there are arguments for the adoption of such a diet in adult lives, (arguments I don't necessarily agree with, by the way), depriving growing children of the benefits of the calcium and nutrition to be found in dairy products (whatever about meat) may need some explanation.
  6. crf8 macrumors member


    Apr 6, 2017
    Call whatever child protective services is called in your state and make a child neglect report.
  7. Number-Six macrumors 6502


    Jul 25, 2013
    That is also what I was going to suggest
  8. ejb190, Apr 26, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017

    ejb190 macrumors 65816


    Two things:
    1) the lawyer will tell you what you need to make your case. A consult will help you get your ducks in a row.
    2) you need a lawyer so mean you don't even like him. Fathers are always at a disadvantage in a custody case. So selecting someone who specializes in father's rights is going to be essential.

    EDIT: 3) CPS may not be a bad idea, but could complicate things dramatically. Consult the lawyer.
    4) You are correct. Vegan diets are routinely short on protein and calcium unless carefully managed. What I have read (I'm a horticulturalist, not a doctor) suggests vegan diets should only be started after the teen years. You might want to consult with a pediatrician or nutritionist for more "ammo".
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    That's what the lawyer is for. What's with your aversion to "going back and forth" with a lawyer, anyway? That's precisely why you retain one.
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Exactly. Couldn't agree more.

    Re vegan diets, I agree with @ejb190 that they really should only come under consideration once someone has become an adult; children and teenagers have growing bodies, (and bones) and body mass, - and may need extra sources of food, rather than less.

    However, I suspect that these food issues are both cause and symptom of wider problems.
  11. curmudgeonette, Apr 27, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017

    curmudgeonette macrumors 6502

    Jan 28, 2016
    I've been vegan for 25+ years. I don't try to convert people. "Faux veganism" was forced upon you, it didn't work out, and you went back to the old familiar. Whatever. More power to you. I'm amazed you stuck it out as long as you did!

    Your kids are not on a vegan diet. They are on a starvation diet. That list is fiber encapsulated water, fruit, fruit, carb, carb, fruit, and carbs again. Where are the vegetables? Also, where is the oil/fat? If this is representative of what your ex fed you, then you didn't experience a proper vegan diet!

    Have a lawyer bring in a nutritionist. As long as your ex won't change their diet, this may be enough to get custody of the kids.

    (I don't eat spinach. It is useless. Except as a delivery method for salad dressing. The small quantity in a shake will be doubly useless.)


    Addressing other comments:

    It is essentially impossible for a vegan diet to be protein deficient. Some years back an author tried to design a deficient vegetarian diet. The only way was to eat nothing but some obscure food item (some sort of bean?) for all meals. So - eat a variety of items that add up to a normal amount of calories, and you won't be protein deficient.

    Eating dairy is a net-negative for calcium absorption! The extra fat reduces the amount of calcium the body can absorb.

    Something that carnivores get wrong when making vegan meals: Portion size. At a company picnic, the meat eaters may sit down with a small piece of steak, one spoonful of green beans, and a red potato. A vegan will steal a serving plate from the caterers, and pile it so high with veggies that they are threatening to landslide off the plate. Or: A meat eater orders a small pepperoni pizza. The vegan orders a large, no cheese, and every veggie topping on the menu.

    Your ex is still thinking in terms of carnivore portion sizes.

    Vegan doesn't have to be weird. French fries are vegan (well, except for McDonalds fries.) Potato chips are vegan. Frito's corn chips are vegan*. Coke is vegan. Oreos are vegan**. Clif bars are vegan. Taco Bell bean burritos and bean tacos are vegan if you leave off the cheese. Pancakes smothered in maple syrup with a strawberry on top can be vegan. Apple pie can be vegan.

    Keep the previous paragraph in mind if you don't get custody of the kids. You can stuff them full of vegan food every visitation.

    * Useful for a vegan to know when on long drives. Almost every gas station will have Frito's and Mountain Dew.

    ** A fact I made use of when abroad. One meal a day was usually potato chips and Oreos.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 27, 2017 ---
    --- Post Merged, Apr 27, 2017 ---
    Get your son a bottle of Dr Bronner's castile soap. The favorite soap of vegan hippies of yore. Can be used as shampoo. A bit strong though, it removes all skin and hair oil.

    Plenty of vegan sunscreens are available. For many, the primary active ingredient is zinc particles.
  12. shinji macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2007
    There are plenty of sites where lawyers will give you a free case review, and tell you if you have a chance. I know of and

    Personally, I'd take the kids to your doctor first to find out if they really are malnourished.
  13. chevelleguy3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2013
    Mckinney, TX

    Thank you for your feedback. I am not going to knock the vegan lifestyle. It may work for some people and not for others. My only perception of the vegan lifestyle is what I experienced with her. If if was not a true and accurate vegan experience, that doesn't surprise me and a huge failure on her part. Regardless, I had no intention on becoming vegan and I doubt I ever will. What happened to me is one thing, I'm recovering and doing much better now. I'm very concerned that the kids are nutrient deprived. They aren't skin and bones or anything like that but I believe the diet has stunted the growth. There is obviously a reason for the tooth decay on my son's teeth. I will wait to see what the doctor and dentist have to say.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 28, 2017 ---

    Thank you for that info, I'd like to see what they have to say.

    Before I do anything, I want to see what the doctor and dentist have to say about this.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 28, 2017 ---
    I have considered calling CPS. My mother has been wanting to call CPS for quite some time on her. I would like to see what an attorney thought of this before pulling the trigger on a CPS investigation.
  14. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    It sounds like you have the right plan. Consult a physician to see where your children stand physically and a lawyer to see where you stand legally. CPS might not be a bad idea, but not before you talk to a lawyer. Sorry to hear you have to deal with this.

    As @skepticalscribe alluded to, it sounds like your wife might have some control issues. Food is indeed often a source of control for women.

    I'm by no means a dietician, but as a pharmacist I can tell you the proper nutrients are essential in growing children. Things like B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber may be lacking in a vegan diet. Personally I don't think a vegan diet is appropriate for children, partially on a health level but more so on an ethical level. Such a diet I think is a personal decision. Health wise, a vegan diet is doable in children BUT mom needs to know what she is doing.

    I've primarily worked as a clinical pharmacist in impatient settings. Though my speciality is psychiatric medicine, I see plenty of vegan/vegetarians with nutritional deficiencies when they come in (deficiency may or may not be related to the reason they're in the hospital). People adopt these lifestyles without doing their homework or adequately ensure they are getting sufficient nutrients.

    Anyways, a visit to the doctor and some simple blood tests should help determine if and how serious of an issue this is. There could be other reasons for tooth decay in young children. How does their height/weight compare to their peers?

    It's probably in your best interest to try and get a record of what theyre eating on a daily basis, though that may be difficult with your children being so young. Maybe try to have her put in writing what she thinks you should be feeding the kids (if she hasn't already). Then you can have a doctor/deitician review if that's appropriate.
  15. Zobrien macrumors member


    Feb 4, 2017
    I'm sorry to hear you had to go through this, especially your kids. If she is really going to be that stubborn and not listen to you about anything, get a lawyer, win your case and get custody, and smile at her every time you see her. What she is doing is being too narrow-minded and putting everyone at risk because of it. Prayers out to you everything goes well and your health stay stable, but you need to get those kids away from her, she's a menace right now!
  16. chevelleguy3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2013
    Mckinney, TX
    I go in on May 5th to have them looked at by a doctor. My son's height/weight is definitely on the low side compared to others in his age group. For instance, he's the smallest kid in his pre-school group. Two of my neighbors have little girls that are younger than him and significantly taller and bigger than he is.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 28, 2017 ---
    And by the way, here's a picture of his teeth

    Attached Files:

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